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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

You’re probably aware of the health risks of cavities and tooth decay, but many people aren’t aware of their full impact on your teeth and gums. Medically known as periodontal disease, gum disease can range from the early stage of gingivitis to the dire and dangerous stage of advanced periodontitis. Gum disease can negatively impact your physical health as well as your oral health. Learning as much as possible about gum disease and its symptoms can help you prevent some of the dangerous side effects and diseases that can arise from gum disease.

Are Gingivitis and Gum Disease the Same Thing?

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, and when the disease is caught at this stage, it can usually be stopped and its effects reversed. However, when it’s not treated, and it advances to periodontal disease, periodontitis, or advanced periodontitis, it will have done permanent damage to the teeth and gums. At this point, the damage cannot be undone. It can also have a negative impact on many of your major organs, so it shouldn’t be ignored.

More than 75 percent of Americans have some stage of gum disease, although only about 15 percent are aware of the fact. More than 60 percent of mid-to-older teens have gum disease, which is often left untreated. Although many adults try to prevent the onset of gum disease, about one-third of them have a genetic predisposition to it. For those with a genetic predisposition, even good oral hygiene habits won’t be sufficient, and they should be sure to schedule twice-yearly appointments with their dentist. Knowing the signs and symptoms of gum disease can help you maintain the best oral health possible and eliminate many of the serious ramifications of advanced periodontal disease.

How Does Gingivitis Impact My Health?

In its early stages, gingivitis is characterized by inflamed and swollen gums that may also cause pain and may bleed during brushing and flossing. It’s the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults, but it can be prevented by a regimen of good oral hygiene that includes regular dental checkups and cleanings.

When gingivitis isn’t treated in its early stage, it will become periodontitis, which can cause your teeth to loosen. Your gums may be inflamed and bleed when you brush and floss, and you may have a buildup of plaque on your teeth. The plaque encourages the growth of bacteria, which aggravates the gingival disease. When periodontal disease isn’t treated at this stage, it can progress to periodontitis and then advanced periodontitis. At this point, the jawbone will have suffered permanent damage, the ligaments that attach the teeth to the gums will have been permanently damaged, and the teeth may begin to fall out. You may experience facial distortion, and at this point, the only solution is expensive and painful reconstructive dentistry. You may also, at this point, have experienced pulmonary damage, cardiac damage, and damage to many other major organs.

All of this calamity can be prevented by a regimen of good oral hygiene that includes a minimum of twice-daily brushing and flossing, use of antibacterial mouthwash, and regular dental checkups and cleanings.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Aside from a genetic predisposition to gum disease, the primary cause of periodontal disease is inadequate or insufficient oral hygiene. However, there are other factors that may impact your ability to avoid gum disease or may increase your chances of getting it. Those factors include:

  • Hormonal Changes: Gums become more sensitive during hormone fluctuations that occur during pregnancy, puberty, menopause and menstruation in women.
  • Illness: Patients are at an increased risk for developing gum disease. Especially if they have cancer, HIV, diabetes and more.
  • Medications: When medications have dry mouth as a side effect, this can impair salva production which is responsible for washing away bacteria in the mouth.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Poor lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use, prohibit gum regeneration.

To keep these conditions from increasing your risk of gum disease, the American Dental Association recommends a regimen of brushing and flossing a minimum of two times daily and the use of an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing. Regular dental cleanings and checkups can enable your dentist to spot problem areas before they escalate into major issues

Which Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease Should I Be Aware Of?

Although gum disease can present asymptomatically, it usually has symptoms, such as:

  • Bite changes
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Inflamed gums
  • Loosened teeth
  • Persistent bad taste
  • Receding gums
  • Swollen or sensitive gums
  • Uneven spacing between teeth

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, schedule a dental visit without delay. Catching gingivitis before it worsens into periodontitis or worse can save your teeth, your smile, and your facial structure. Over time, periodontal disease can adversely impact your physical health and your major organs. Research has corroborated a link between gum disease and cardiac diseases, pulmonary diseases, and problems with other major organs.

Is There Anything I Should Know About Periodontal Disease?

If you don’t treat gingivitis when it occurs, as you know, it will worsen into periodontal disease, then periodontitis and then advanced periodontal disease. The conclusion of this cycle is you losing all your teeth, damaging your jawbone, and enduring the distortion of your facial features. There are three specific types of periodontal disease that can only be diagnosed by your dentist. They are:

  • Aggressive periodontitis, which usually occurs in otherwise healthy adults. However, it will quickly destroy your teeth and gums, so be sure to see your dentist if you develop gingivitis.
  • Chronic periodontitis, which is the most common and occurs because of poor hygiene habits and lack of periodontal disease treatment.
  • Necrotizing periodontitis, which happens when the jawbone, gums, and ligaments that secure the teeth slowly die. This type of periodontal disease is most common in those with compromised immune systems.

If you develop gingivitis, be sure to schedule a visit with your dentist without delay to ensure that you don’t have one of these types of periodontal diseases.

What’s the Best Way to Prevent Gum Disease?

The best method for preventing gum disease is a regimen of adequate and proper oral hygiene, and staying informed. It can mean the difference between a lifetime of healthy teeth and a beautiful smile or a lifetime of gum disease and a mouth devoid of natural teeth. Call your dentist today to schedule a cleaning and an exam, especially if you haven’t seen a dentist in a while.

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